One only has to take a look at the media and its coverage of current events to see that in this 21st century the virus of populism has spread far and wide, settling in virtually all corners of the globe. It stirs conflicts, waves flags, undermines institutions. It destabilizes governments and breathes life into ridiculous conspiracies. It lurks in right-wing and left-wing groups alike, is endorsed by progressives, nationalists and conservatives in the service of seemingly noble and just causes, and in other cases works to foment rancor, a thirst for revenge and discontent. It exists in governments, parliaments, and, of course, in social networks. TV talk shows are inundated with it. It sits at the dinner table in our homes and finds an ideal incubation place in the information overdose and the emotional sphere.
Unfortunately, this contagious phenomenon that polarizes and divides is not confined to the political arena, but also contaminates other dimensions of our existence, including Church membership. It peddles easy solutions to difficult problems. It does not originate in the ecosystem that nurtures it, and by its very nature is rooted in poverty of thought, which prevents individuals and communities from understanding the full complexity of reality. To represent it with a simple image, it is as if everyone were moving through a dark night, using only dipped headlights, and thus exposing themselves to sudden, emotional reactions, when we should first and foremost maintain as deep, sharp and broad a view of reality as possible.
Since the problem has now become generalized, it is appropriate to focus on the Church and ask whether this evil is in fact present among Christians as well, that is, to ask how this phenomenon, which affects our relationship with the truth, affects life, behavior and people in the Church. In other words, in the Christian environment, or at least in some parts of it, are there indications of populism? Is there populism in the Church, as it is found in the political arena? Are we exempt from this phenomenon?